–Former NFF Boss pleads for continuity
Amidst the hue and cry amongst disgruntled local fans that the Nigeria Football Federation should do away with the services of the embattled coach Stephen Keshi, former NFF Chairman, Alhaji Ibrahim Galadima here posits that the ‘Big Boss’ deserves another chance…
Accept our sympathy over the recent armed robbery attack on Kano Pillars football club .
Thank you very much my brother.
Such unfortunate incident got some Nigerians thinking about the need to put an end to teams travelling to match venues by road, especially trips that exceed two hours. What is your take on this?
Yeah, that is what we have been advocating for if really we want to move the league forward in this country. It is important that much support is given to clubs playing in the league with more sponsors coming into the system. We need to provide logistics support to teams traveling to honour league matches by making it mandatory for teams to travel by air through the nearest airport. Besides, I believe arrangements can be reached with local airlines to make this happen by sponsorship money. It is important we give people hope in this nation by taking security of life seriously. This is the only way we can instill confidence not only in the minds of Nigerian players but other African players who want to come here to play continental matches. I am sure some of the foreign teams coming down to Nigeria for continental matches will also be worried by this experience. I hope the League Management Company (LMC) will work closely with NFF in ensuring that our players are given that sense of safety each time they go out to honour league matches.
Nothing is happening in Super Eagles, with Stephen Keshi’s future yet to be decided. Many have argued that the present board lacks ideas on how to handle Keshi’s case. Do you subscribe to this?
I don’t know what is happening around the FA for now and it will be difficult for me to comment on it but having said that, I know there was a disagreement over his take home pay and that has been the biggest news in the press. No Nigerian is happy about it because all our football needs now is stability in terms of technical approach to the challenges ahead of Nigeria, concerning Nations Cup and World Cup qualifiers. We want our players to continue where they left off and cultivate the winning spirit in both the senior and junior teams which are all managed by local coaches. Our local coaches are capable and are doing a great job right now. I would like Keshi and NFF to reach an agreement and come out with a decision that is good for Nigeria. The government can also support the FA with funds to be able to pay Keshi’s salary. All I want is stability because the qualifiers are just around the corner and we don’t have time to waste.
Would you have allowed Keshi to continue with his job?
I think he has not done badly, moreso, if you look at the problems that surrounded our AFCON qualifiers where we lost at home to Congo which was due to in house instability within the FA. I believe in the ability of our local coaches who I know have been doing extremely well over the years. It won’t be a bad idea to give room for continuity considering the short time we have before the qualifiers.
Are you in a way worried about the state of football in Nigeria with intrigues and war of words that is tearing the NFF apart? Pundits feels Amaju Pinnick lacks the ability. Do you see the present NFF board taking Nigerian football to the next level?
Well , I know things will get better for our football. In a country where elections take place you are bound to have little problems after that. Besides, with the history we had in the past as regards NFF election, one cannot rule out such happenings . All that is happening now is the fall out of the election but that does not mean that people should not have the interest of the country at heart. I think the lasting solution to all of these issues is to have the right people who are ready to work with the fear of God in their hearts. We want people who will sit down and put the nation first before their personal ambitions. I have been praying for peace with the NFF and if care is not taken; these entire grievances will continue to drag our football downwards.
You were in charge of NFA when the likes of Jay Jay and Kanu held sway in the national team with their level of commitment. Do you agree current Super Eagles players may have been over pampered?
It all depends on the way you look at it. If you want to blame the players for Nigeria’s woes, you have to also look at it from the administrative angle. A lot of aspersions have been thrown at the players but people fail to realize that there is need to have administrative back up for the players too, as regards proper motivation, in terms of good arrangements and preparations for matches which I believe boil down to administrative efficiency. All these added up give you good performances which is better than saying that the players are not committed. I think people are not being fair when they say players alone should be blamed for the poor state of Super Eagles. There are lots of things that can affect team play especially when players complain of non-payment of winning bonuses. What about arrangement among other issues, before you accuse the players of not being committed enough. It’s high time we put our house in order, and then the players will deliver.
What were the keys to success during your reign as NFF President? How did you manage to knock Super Eagles into a winning team?
It has to do with establishing a cordial relationship with the technical crew and players alike. There won’t be a success story for the FA to tell if you don’t carry the players and coaches along. We operated as one family, whereby issues affecting the team were brought to the table.
It is important the FA give special attention to the team if they really want Nigerian football to return to winning ways. The earlier the FA put it’s house in order, the better. I believe continuity will help our football. Once the FA performs its administrative duties effectively, then we will get the result on the field of play. I strongly believe Nigeria will return to winning ways once again.
SIASIA: ‘ZAMBIA ARE NO THREATS!’
–Dream Team coach focused on U-23 assignment
Dream Team six Chief Coach Samson Siasia has said that he would decline any offer to tinker the Super Eagles now, because he is on a mission to making history with the Nigeria Under-23 team. Siasia told RICHARD JIDEAKA in this interview conducted in Abuja that he wants to qualify for the All-Africa Games and win gold, as well at the Olympic games.
How is the Nigerian Olympic soccer team doing. Is this team qualified to be called the Dream Team?
This team is work in progress. We are just four months old as a team, I am still trying to get the best out of the players I have been working on. The team has been nick-named Dream Team Six and I believe it will be when we complete the work of building a strong that Nigerians dream of. For now it is elimination by substitution until we get it right.
What is your target with this team and how are you going about actualising it?
The primary target is to qualify this team for both the All Africa Games and the Olympic games in Brazil but the ultimate is to try and win the gold medals at both games. Zambia is the the only hurdle standing on our way to picking the All Africa Games ticket and we shall fight hard to eliminate them.
Do you see this team you are building doing better than the team that won the silver at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China?
Coaches the world over always strive to build better teams and win laurels so I will try and build a team that will be as good as the team I tool to Beijing but for now, we are far from there. I hope we shall do well after qualification with top grade friendly matches before either of the games. This was how we began in 2008 until we got it right after eliminating and substituting several players.
There is no sentiment about this. We want to present a good team that Nigerians would be happy to have as their team.
The last time Nigeria won the gold medal at the All Africa Games was in 1973, are you under pressure to win the gold in Congo?
No, I am not under pressure to win gold. I want to qualify first then, worry about winning the gold medal. If we don’t qualify, we cannot even talk about winning even the bronze medal. Zambia is here and all we want to do is to beat them well before we start thinking about our medal prospect.
What are the challenges facing the team now and what is the level of support you guys are getting from the NFF and NSC?
We are not facing any noticeable challenges other the players response to team tactics and the team’s defensive lapses which we have been trying to correct. I think our challenges are just about how we play. As for the support from the NSC and NFF, I think it has been alright as we are not lacking in what we want.
What is the level of motivation the team has been getting from NSC and NFF?
We are not complaining at all. We are motivating ourselves, knowing that if we qualify, we should have made history for ourselves because it had been quite a long time Nigeria qualified for the All-Africa Games. If we do, I am sure the NSC and NFF will not doubt come to appreciate the commitment of the players.
We learnt the team is being owed some bonuses and allowances?
We have been assured we would get what ever they owe, us so we are not worried because we know we shall get our money. It is like workers being owed salaries, of course they would be paid at one point, so no problem now. Again, we don’t want to talk about that now to avoid distractions.
Would you if the need arises dump this team and take up appointment with the Super Eagles?
No, I cannot in anyway dump this team because this is a team I have been building and I would not want to abandon this project now. If I do that I would have disrupted the progress of this Dream Team six and bring distraction on them. Maybe at the appropriate time we can sit down and talk. But for now, count me out of the Super Eagles job.
What will you say of the talent that is certain Kingsley Sokari, who aside from playing for three national teams of Nigeria including the Super Eagles also plays continental games for his club Enyimba, are you not concerned he would burn out?
The young man is a special talent. He is a player we want to be a part of this team but his shuttling among these teams is not allowing him blossom in the team. I fear he might burn out and not get to where he ought to be. We want to keep him and continue to work on him until he gets us what we want him to do for the team.
What are your fears of the Zambian team in this weekend’s AAG qualifier?
I am never afraid of any team, so why should I fear Zambia. Perhaps I will get worried if the boys are not playing to instructions but I cannot be afraid of them. I don’t fear they will eliminate us because I know they cannot. The only thing is that we have to be ready to take our chances and if we can defend well, we shall win well.